Benefits of breastfeeding
- For your baby, breast milk is both nutritious and medicinal. Breastfeeding reduces the risk of pneumonia, diarrhea, ear infections, urinary tract infection, and meningitis.
- Breastfeeding is fuel to the developing brain. It is said that breast milk can lead to an IQ that is higher by two to five points.
- Studies suggest that breastfeeding during the first year can decrease the risk of SIDS, Sudden Infant Death Syndrome.
- Mortality rates are 21 percent lower amongst breast fed infants during the first 12 months compared to infants fed formula.
- Long-term benefits of breastfeeding include a decreased risk for diabetes, obesity, high cholesterol, and certain types of cancer, including Hodgkin's Disease, leukemia, and lymphoma.
- Breastfeeding decreases the risk for diabetes, ovarian cancer, and breast cancer.
- Cost-savings extend from food costs to time off work due to childhood illnesses.
- Breastfeeding has no environmental footprint, manufacturing costs, or waste to dispose of.
Risks Associated with Formula Feeding
The American Academy of Pediatrics encourages breastfeeding, citing evidence from research in underdeveloped and still-developing countries that suggests an increased risk of disease related to formula feeding:
- Respiratory tract infection, celiac disease, high cholesterol, obesity, ear infection, diarrhea, bacteremia, bacterial meningitis, inflammatory bowel disease, necrotizing enterocolitis, late onset sepsis in pre-term infants, and asthma in children and adults.
- Supplementing breast milk with formula decreases the benefits of the first. It also introduces the risk of allergic response to soy or cow's milk from which formula is made.
Source: American Academy of Pediatrics, Breastfeeding and the Use of Human Milk, Pediatrics, vol.9, no. 3, March 2012.
There are several ways you can improve your breastfeeding success:
- Learn proper positioning techniques in an online or live breastfeeding class. What you learn will maximize your comfort and ensure that your baby obtains an optimal amount of milk. Breastfeeding classes also cover how to transition back to work or school while still breastfeeding.
- Hold your baby with direct skin-on-skin contact soon after giving birth.
- Breastfeed your baby within an hour of delivery. After the initial feeding, continue the practice anytime your baby seems hungry. Frequent feedings encourage ample milk supply.
- Allow your baby to sleep very near to you so you can quickly learn and respond to cues of hunger.
- Do not offer a pacifier to your baby until breastfeeding habits have been well established. This can take one month or longer.
- Appreciate your own effort and ability to provide milk for your baby. Be patient with yourself and your newborn as you both navigate this new activity.
Breastfeeding can be a successful endeavor for almost every new mother and newborn, including initial breastfeeding in the first hour of life, exclusive breastfeeding (no additional food) for the first six months, and continuation of breastfeeding after the introduction of solids.
Local Breastfeeding Resources
La Leche League International
Breastfeeding mothers can obtain the information and support they need from this well-established organization dedicated to the education on breastfeeding. Several groups can be found in our local area. To find a group near you, call 713-383-2819. You may also visit http://texaslll.org/
The Lactation Foundation offers support and guidance to new mothers in Texas. Visit their site here, or call their training center at 713-839-0527.
Our staff is also happy to assist you in finding resources that will help you through pregnancy, delivery, and beyond. Contact Jenkins Obstetrics, Gynecology & Reproductive Medicine at 855-346-8610.